What account can we give unto ourselves and our children concerning our observation of this day holy unto the Lord? Must we not say, nay, may we not do so with joy and rejoicing, that whereas we were lost and undone by sin, excluded out of the rest of God, so far as that the law of the observation of the outward pledge of it, being attended with the curse, was a burden, and no relief unto us, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, undertook a great work to make peace for us, to redeem and save us; and when he had so done, and finished his work, even the erecting of the “new heavens and new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness,” he entered into his rest, and thereby made known unto us that we should keep this day as a day of holy rest unto him, and as a pledge that we have again given unto us an entrance into rest with God?

John Owen

Owen, J. (1862). An Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews. (W. H. Goold, Ed.) (Vol. 19, p. 450). Edinburgh: T&T Clark.

John Owen (1616 – 1683)

Leading theologian of the Congregational churches

Born at Stadhampton, Oxfordshire, Owen was educated at Queen’s College, Oxford, where he studied classics and theology and was ordained. Because of the “high-church” innovations introduced by Archbishop William Laud, he left the university to be a chaplain to the family of a noble lord. His first parish was at Fordham n Essex, to which he went while the nation was involved in civil war. Here he became convinced that the Congregational way was the scriptural form of church government. In his next charge, the parish of Coggeshall in Essex, he acted both as the pastor of a gathered church and as the minister of the parish. This was possible because the parliament, at war with the king, had removed bishops. In practice, this meant that the parishes could go their own way in worship and organization. Oliver Cromwell liked Owen and took him as his chaplain on his expeditions both to Ireland and Scotland (1649–1651).

Owen’s fame was at its height from 1651 to 1660 when he played a prominent part in the religious, political, and academic life of the nation. Appointed dean of Christ Church, Oxford, in 1651, he became also vice-chancellor of the university in 1652, a post he held for five years with great distinction and with a marked impartiality not often found in Puritan divines. This led him also to disagreement, even with Cromwell, over the latter’s assumption of the protectorship. Owen retained his deanery until 1659. Shortly after the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660, he moved to London, where he was active in preaching and writing until his death. He declined invitations to the ministry in Boston (1663) and the presidency of Harvard (1670) and chided New England Congregationalists for intolerance. He turned aside also from high preferment when his influence was acknowledged by governmental attempts to persuade him to relinquish Nonconformity in favor of the established church.

His numerous works include The Display of Arminianism (1642); Eshcol, or Rules of Direction for the Walking of the Saints in Fellowship (1648), an exposition of Congregational principles; Salus Electorum, Sanguis Jesu (1648), another anti-Arminian polemic; Diatriba de Divina Justitia (1658), an attack on Socinianism; Of the Divine Original Authority … of the Scriptures (1659); Theologoumena Pantodapa (1661), a history from creation to Reformation; Animadversions to Fiat Lux (1662), replying to a Roman Catholic treatise; Doctrine of Justification by Faith (1677); and Exercitationes on the Epistle to the Hebrews (1668–1684).


Douglas, J. D. (1992). Owen, John. In J. D. Douglas & P. W. Comfort (Eds.), Who’s Who in Christian history (pp. 525–526). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House.

Categories:   John Owen, Quotations


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